All most people know about this years transfers is that Cristiano Ronaldo is no longer a Red Devil, and that Kaka is no longer a Rossoneri, and that Karim Benzema no longer plays for Lyon. What most people don’t see is that stars don’t make a team. They carry a team forward. The heart and soul of any team are usually lesser known, even ignored.. but without them, a star cannot shine.
Who is Thomas Vermaelen?
Meet Thomas Vermaelen.? Arsenal’s latest signing this summer. He’s a left footed central defender who was pretty much in the scheme of things at his former club, Ajax Amsterdam. He started out at a little known Belgian club, Germinal Beerschot Antwerpen, where he was considered a bright prospect. From there, he moved to Ajax in May, 1999 (at the age of 15) when the two clubs merged. He was a part of the Ajax youth ranks for four years, till 2003. It was in February, 2004 that he donned the Ajax first team shirt for the first time.
He made his first team debut in 2004. But he wasn’t a part of the coach’s immediate plans, and was sent on loan to RKC Waalwijk for the 2004-05 season. On returning, however, he really started finding his feet at Ajax. He mostly filled in for injured wing back Maxwell, but he impressed all (including the coach) with his man marking skills, and the fact that he was excellent in the air added significantly to his credentials. He eventually made it to the first team as a regular.
He won the KNVB Cup and Johan Cruijff Shield for two years running with the Amsterdam club, in 2006 and 2007. He partnered the decorated Dutch defender, former Manchester United man Jaap Stam and the veteran saw a lot of promise in the youngster. He predicted big things for Vermaelen. However, the crowning glory of his career with Ajax came when he was appointed the first team captain for the 2008-09 season. But despite his best intentions and efforts, the club couldn’t manage to top the Dutch league, which it has not won for five years now.
Every footballer of substance dreams of playing in the English Premiership, the physically most demanding league in Europe. Vermaelen attracted the attentions of Premiership clubs Aston Villa and Arsenal. In the end he decided to sign with the North Londoners for a fee of around ?12 million. Arsenal’s defensive worries were pretty apparent last season, with the club giving up a commanding position in the league to finish fourth. Given the circumstances, Vermaelen should be a great asset to the club (and that’s exactly what Arsene Wenger seems to think).
What to expect?
Well, considering his stature in Europe, you wouldn’t expect Vermaelen to make a move to the Premiership and just sit on the bench, so I think we can expect him to be a regular member of the first team with Arsenal.
He has scored 8 goals for Ajax (in 94 appearances), and 2 while on loan. So clearly, the man can score too. In terms of Fantasy, I expect him to be a decent buy… with the added benefit of being not too pricey. So you can buy him if you wish to compile a reasonably priced defense.
We can expect good things from Thomas Vermaelen.